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16mm aesthetics, experimentation vs. film quality (absolute and perceptive)


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#1 Richardson Leao

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 01:18 AM

Dear all,

Recently I have posted a post linking to my 16mm clips using a kinor and k3 that were done from film expired nearly 30 years ago and developed (at home) specially to look grainy and silvery? It also showed other clips from old color negs and short ends developed with c41 chemistry (at home)? Anyway, some people thought that these were the ugliest 16mm clips on the web, truly awful. Fair enough. So, I would like to share some of my existential antagonisms and the views regarding film aesthetics and experimentation.

I know there is a lot of professionals on this forum, that generally, are focused on high-standard image quality, impeccable illumination and cutting edge high-definition media. Most of the time, the clients require impeccable images. Suppose that a musician wants a video clip, he wants his clip to look like that other clip that then look like a movie that look like another movie. For that, the DP will then get the latest and freshest Kodak vision/fuji eterna stock, that was developed during many many years by thousands of professionals. He also uses the latest in photo-metric technology, developed by several other professionals. Then, if he has the 5C?s of cinematography, he will then dial the appropriate aperture on the lens in order to get the desired DOF based on his seikonic meter. After that, the film will be sending to that lab, where the professional technicians really know how to handle the film and use the freshest ECN chemicals available. Then, without even touching the film, the negatives are sent to that telecine house that does the best high definition transfer on the market. Result: impeccable clip, the client is very happy because his video clip looks just like that other video clip from that famous group? Sometimes, the DP can even dare, by applying gels and using filters (which the professionals that made these filters already indicated that you have to compensate the aperture by x/f). And if he really really wanna dare (as nature has made humans very daring), he may then ask the lab to do a bleach bypass (and as the lab professionals know they trade, it will turn up perfect).


But then, there are people, like myself, that don?t want pristine image, that actually want most of the image definition spoiled, then the spectator can define a lot of the frame themselves. People that want to develop a more intimate relationship with the image. Even knowing that most people out there are not interested in how the filmmaker does his film, or how he relates to the image. Most of these filmmakers (including myself) are amateurs. The word amateur come from the latin: amare, or to love. And I guess that was the kind of relationship I wanted with the image: love. So, if I then, for my own sake decide that I need a low definition image for over 30 minutes, to emulate the vision of a dog, I cannot buy the latest Kodak Vision Tri-Spoiled II and ask the lab to please add coffee on their continuous machine? I actually have to hunt for spoiled film in flea markets and ebay?s, in enough quantity. Then I have to try each roll individually for it to look consistent as time affect rolls differently by the inherited unpredictable way that nature affects objects. Many developing hours, many testing strips, many hydroquinone concentrations. Then, after weeks and weeks of EXPERIMENTATION I will have consistently ?ugly? results.

On the top of that, I also did a wireless device (recipe and software on the web) to synchronise the sound w/ the picture (total price: 50$) and remove most of the kinor noise using a program that I made myself and once it?s user friendly, I would love to share to other amateurs like me.

OK, then define UGLY? Look at the picture attached. Technically it looks awful, maybe the worst BW picture on the web.


Posted Image

But that particular picture was taken with a film that I made my self, mixing silver nitrate, K bromate and K iodate, then adding gelatine, hardening slightly it with formaldehyde and coating a piece overhead transparency and placing it at the back of an slr and then develop it using hydroquinone. Still the picture looks ugly, but the relationship I developed with the image is still fulfilling and more rewarding (for me) than what would be with a digital still using the latest dSLR model.


The emulsion is quite weak at the moment and I don?t think it would survive a MP camera. But I?ll keep experimenting and one day, if I find a place to buy clear acetate, it I make it hard enough, then, mate, you?ll see 16mm clips on the net that will be 100 times uglier than the ones I sent using expired/spoiled film. On this day, I guess I will stop to take part on the discussions if film will ever die, or be worried that a evil CEO will change Kodak?s or Fuji?s policy as it happens to Ilford.

Anyway, if there are people out there that is interested on experimentation aesthetics, the usage of very old film, how to get pre-40?s look, how to make a world on the eyes of a dog? not on impeccable images obtained by the finest lenses and the latest stocks, please check the website. And I would really appreciate to exchange info with other people, that like me, are amateurs. Many thanks for the attention, especially from the professionals that have give me essential constructive advice.

Edited by Richardson Leao, 15 January 2007 - 01:22 AM.

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#2 Nick Mulder

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 02:12 AM

^_^
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#3 Joseph Winchester

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 02:17 AM

Like you, I enjoy the idea of creating your own medium. One of my pet projects is learning salt printing in the old Talbot style. I've made quite a few prints from contact printed 4x5 negatives. All of the material is hand coated and the chemicals hand mixed by me. I love seeing the 'hand' of the artist present in these types of projects.

I've been experimenting alot with hand processing movie film (after years of hand processing my own 35mm still photo film). There is a different aesthetic for sure.

Your idea of creating your own emulsion is fascinating. Would clear leader work as a base for this experiment?
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#4 Richardson Leao

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 02:57 AM

Like you, I enjoy the idea of creating your own medium. One of my pet projects is learning salt printing in the old Talbot style. I've made quite a few prints from contact printed 4x5 negatives. All of the material is hand coated and the chemicals hand mixed by me. I love seeing the 'hand' of the artist present in these types of projects.

I've been experimenting alot with hand processing movie film (after years of hand processing my own 35mm still photo film). There is a different aesthetic for sure.

Your idea of creating your own emulsion is fascinating. Would clear leader work as a base for this experiment?


thanks for the suggestion Joseph, but i guess leader would be too thick? it will take a while for it to get to the stage that i can do film over long lengths. i am moving countries soon and hopefully buying a house somewhere with a large basement, then I could try to do some kind of continuous system for spraying the emulsion on the acetate, meanwhile, I'll try to make it hard enough. Cheers.
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#5 Robert Hughes

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 04:36 PM

A man after my own heart! Go for it, guy. I bucket process regularly. Never got the urge to roll my own emulsion, though. I buy old recans and eBay castoffs and usually have good results. What's a little fogging among friends, anyway?

The only totally unworkable film I've ever seen was from a WW2 era, 16mm gun camera magazine, which was totally fogged, except for ---!!! one !!! --- frame, which was totally clear. I have no explanation for that, unless it was an atom bomb shot that vaporized the emulsion...

You can make any old 16mm ifilm into clear leader with a bucket of bleach.
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